Buying or selling real estate can be a complex process, and even the best deals can have their moments of frustration for all parties. The entire process itself is stressful, and that can often bring out the worst (and sometimes the best) in people.
We as agents spend a lot of time promoting ourselves and the level of customer service that we provide our clients. Anyone who is a true professional has a deeper understanding of what it means to provide solid information, advice, guidance and support to clients, and this should speak for itself as we assist you with your transaction.
But since agents and loan officers and title companies would not have jobs without customers, we often downplay the fact that we need help and support from our clients as well. When buying or selling a home, rarely do we stop to think what it means to be a good customer. Here are some great tips that may help you feel better about the large undertaking, and the professionals that you will be working with along the way:
Ask questions. If you don’t understand a part of the contract, or you need clarification about a term, or even to know what comes next in the process, ask. Not only will you have a better grasp of the situation, but you will feel better at the end of the day. Real estate contracts can be complex, so don’t just skim along and hope it works out. Be involved in the process and understand what is going on with your transaction.
Listen. REALTORS® are duty bound to protect your interests above all others. Remember why you hired your agent in the first place and consider their advice carefully. It may not always be what you want to hear, but sometimes it may still be good advice. Experience counts for a lot. Most people have only bought or sold a handful of properties in their lifetime. Agents handle a handful per month. They are in a unique position to know the trends, values, and common features in local markets. And they have established relationships with other industry professionals to build upon this knowledge base.
Don’t lie. This one may seem self explanatory, but sometimes we as customers are embarrassed or ashamed of some of our actions. We think that if we don’t bring it up, no one will find out. But even the smallest omissions can turn out to be huge problems down the road. It’s better to be upfront about any issues so that your agent can help come up with solutions before they fester into huge deal-breaking disasters.
Be clear about your expectations and wishes. Take time to think about what your wants and needs are in a transaction. If you are buying, take a few moments to figure out what features are most important to you, and which you have a bit of flexibility on. If you are selling, consider things such as repairs, timeline, and price. Convey these to your agent. Time is a valuable commodity, and no one wants to waste their time or yours. Spending six weeks looking at two story houses only to discover that your mother-in-law will be living with you (and she requires a downstairs bedroom thanks to her recent hip replacement) is going to lengthen the time it takes you to find that home because of the poorly focused plan you started with.
Be fair. Real estate does not have to be a win-lose game. Yes, sellers always want more money for their properties, and buyers are looking for a better deal. But at the end of the day, everyone in the transaction is working towards the same goal of a closing. There is give and take on all sides.
Seek advice of experts. Seek out business relationships with people who have the experience to back up what they say. If your cousin’s sister’s brother kind-of knows something about electrical systems, he may not be the ideal person to conduct an overhaul of your home’s wiring before putting it on the market.
Don’t trump the expert. Spend time researching the people you work with so that you feel comfortable with him or her. Don’t’ be afraid to ask for references from past clients, or to verify sales figures. But once you’ve spent time doing this, trust that the professional you have selected is going to do their job. Calling every four hours about a new real estate article you saw online, demanding triplicate copies of every ad, e-mail, prospect, flyer, MLS sheet, or other document related to your house, or questioning why buying a home in San Antonio in 2011 is so different than “the way things were done” on a home purchase in 1975 in Pennsylvania may not be ways to show this confidence.
Communicate your frustrations. If the person you are working with is not performing as expected, let them know. There’s a calm, polite way to do this, and most of the time, people will respond positively to the feedback. Letting the problem persist only stresses your further and may end up doing severe damage in the end.
Follow through. Just as you are looking to work with people who do what they promise, make sure you are holding up your end of the deal. Your agent or your loan officer cannot do their job without you. So turn in those loan documents, get back to your agent with answers to important questions, and complete the required repairs when you say you will.
image courtesy of Sklathill